Genting Singapore has said that it expects Japan to be its next big investment opportunity and that it is hopeful of legislation paving the way for the introduction of casinos in Japan within in the next year-and-a-half.
It also revealed at a press conference in Singapore, where it operates Resorts World Sentosa, an Integrated Casino Resort, that it has been following Japan’s legislative process and that the market offers ‘good potential’ for casino gaming.
Japan’s government has been mulling over casino regulation for over a decade but with the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party likely to return to power after elections in December, casinos could be very much on the cards as the party has long been an advocate of legalising casino gambling.
Genting Chairman Lim Kok Thay said: “I’m more optimistic on something happening in Japan. We see some possible movement in terms of Japanese legislation. We believe if the Japanese government does legislate gaming, then they will be looking for large-scale integrated resorts. The group wouldn’t do anything until there’s clarity on gaming regulation.”
Tan Hee Teck, Chief Operating Officer of Genting Singapore, added: “We believe that some legislation will come along in the next 12 to18 months.”
In 2011 a study by Hong Kong- based investment group CLSA said that developing casinos in Japan would be the ‘Holy Grail of gaming in Asia.’
Aaron Fischer, CLSA’s director of gaming and leisure research, predicted however that 2017 was the earliest launch date for casinos in Japan.
He believes a Japanese casino market would be worth at least US$10bn in revenues. The pachinko industry is already hugely popular with Japan’s 128m population with revenues of over $25bn a year.
Issei Koga, a politician from the ruling Democratic party of Japan, meanwhile has described casino resorts as ‘enormously strong engines’ for generating international tourism.
Operators including Las Vegas Sands and Caesars Entertainment have already confirmed their interest in the market. Wynn Resorts however would have to rethink its plans of partnering with its former largest shareholder and Japanese pachinko king Kazuo Okada, the owner of Aruze Gaming, following its court room fall outs.